How-To Videos

When and How to Prime When Painting

By: Danny Lipford
Danny Lipford priming wall paneling with a paint roller.

Danny Lipford priming wall paneling.

Priming before painting has two purposes: to increase bonding between the surface and the paint, and to hide stains and dark colors so they don’t bleed through.

It’s important to prime before painting:

  • Unfinished wood, plywood, particleboard, or MDF
  • New drywall or plaster
  • Water stains on ceilings
  • Knots in wood that have bled through the paint
  • Dark or bright paint colors

Primers are available in water-based, oil-based, and shellac-based. Use special stain blocking oil-based or shellac-based primers when painting over knots, water stains, or dark colors. Latex (water-based) primers can be used on new drywall and wood.

Watch this video to find out more.

Further Information

Video Transcript

Danny Lipford: The most common questions I hear from people about painting have to do with primer. When do you use it and what kind do you use?

Primers chiefly serve two purposes: they promote bonding and they mask color or stains. Now, anytime you have new wood or drywall, the first coating on it should be a quality primer. This seals the pores of the materials; and, at the same time, creates a surface that is ideal for later coats to bond with.

Primers aren’t made to be durable, but they do help make the more durable coating stick. Stain-blocking primers do just what the name says. They block stains created by wood resins, water, and other materials from bleeding through both themselves and the topcoat.

If you’re painting a ceiling that has had a leak in the past, primer—preferably one that is shellac-based—is a must to prevent those brown water stains from reappearing in the new coating.


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When and How to Prime When Painting